European Union’s Eastern Partnership
November 30, 2017 -- The EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP), of six former Soviet states, aims to increase economic ties, democratic governance and reduce corruption as a prelude to eventual candidacy for membership
Jointly initiated by Poland and Sweden in 2009, the EU has provided €1.5 billion for development to the six states: Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
However, the Netherlands and Germany are not thrilled at the prospect of 75 million eastern Europeans joining the EU.
In Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has served as head of state since 1994 while in Azerbaijan, another autocrat, Ilham Aliyev took over as president from his father in 2003.
Oligarchs rule the roost in Ukraine and Moldova while Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus are Kremlin allies.
Russian troops have occupied Moldova’s Transnistria region for the past 25 years. Russia invaded Georgia in 1988 after U.S. president George W. Bush dangled NATO membership as an option — Russian troops still occupy the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions.
And then, the Kremlin’s opposition to Ukraine's role in the EaP eventually led to the annexation of Crimea and war in the Donbas.
When will the EaP nations join the EU? “The Eastern Partnership never promised membership as an end goal,” said Amanda Paul, Senior Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre. “I would be very surprised if either Moldova or Ukraine joins in the next 20 years.”